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Aruba Networks Engineer Talks Cloud, Mobility and Beyond

August 15, 2014

Founded in 2002, Calif.-based Aruba Networks (News - Alert) is one of the most trusted names in providing access management, network infrastructure and mobility applications affording the ability to develop next generation mobility networks. The government as well as business and education enterprise use Aruba Network’s unified solutions to improve productivity, efficiency and connectivity through its manageable and cohesive enterprise mobility network.

TMCnet had the chance to speak with Aruba Networks CTO Husnain Bajwa to hear more about the thought leader’s take on ITEXPO which took place this week in Las Vegas, and what the future in the space may hold.

Why is Microsoft (News - Alert) Lync gaining as much traction as it is? How will its growth impact other UC vendors?

Microsoft really seems to have cracked the UC code with Lync 2013. The client software across all platforms, especially handhelds, is more intuitive and seamless than ever. But probably the most important thing driving Lync’s rapid adoption is Microsoft’s thoughtful approach to the entire ecosystem around Lync. By offering programs to qualify devices and infrastructure for optimal performance with Lync, Microsoft is providing a much higher level of end-to-end quality assurance than we have seen in the past.

Also, Microsoft has been very forward thinking in its embrace of SDN to exchange information with adjacent platforms. At Aruba Networks, we have been fortunate to be able to work with them both as a qualified infrastructure provider and a qualified SDN application partner. The result is that our customers can now deploy Lync in their all-wireless office environments and maintain unprecedented visibility and control over both their wireless networks and Lync applications from a single dashboard.

Is the BYOD trend slowing down or is it still gaining momentum?  Why?

The BYOD trend continues to gain momentum due to the productivity and cost savings benefits it offers enterprises, the preference of employees to select their own devices, the expansion in the types of mobile devices available to consumers and advances in wireless infrastructure technologies that enable simple and secure on boarding and the enhanced management of devices. For example, Aruba’s ClearPass Access Management System provides a suite of tools to enable IT organizations to easily enroll BYOD devices into corporate networks using secure certificate enrollment. Compared with prior manual provisioning and enrollment processes, the burden on IT staff is virtually eliminated with such a system.

Has Microsoft created a laptop replacement with its Surface 3 Pro tablet?

The Surface 3 Pro is an exceptional device, and it reflects a continuing trend towards wireless-only and highly-mobile devices. Across the board, tablets, ultrabooks and convertibles are blurring the lines between personal and enterprise-managed devices with their only common denominator being the need for secure, fast and reliable wireless connections.

How has mobility changed the way you and your team work?

Mobility has definitely changed the way we work at Aruba. Thanks to our Mobility-Defined Network solutions, we ourselves have embraced an all-wireless workplace. This not only has allowed us to reduce costs, improve productivity and foster collaboration, it is enabling us to better serve our customers, partners and the needs of our GenMobile employees, an emerging group of workers defined by their preference for mobility in terms of the devices they use and their approach to work and personal communication. Members of GenMobile want to stay connected all the time, no matter where they are, and our all-wireless workplace supports this preference.

How has mobility impacted the way you interact with your customers?

Mobility has made us more connected to our customers and in turn, mobility has impacted the way we interact with our customers by enabling us to be more responsive to customer inquiries. Our highly-reliable Lync service with open federation enables us to quickly exchange ideas internally and with a number of important partners.

What functions/applications has your business moved to the cloud that you were once running on-premises?   How has migrating to cloud benefitted you?

Traditional control and management of wireless infrastructure has required deployment of many premise devices and servers. The transition to cloud platforms has relieved a lot of that stress. At Aruba, the largest benefit we have received from cloud computing is related to our cloud product offers. We are now able to offer robust cloud management of Wi-Fi infrastructures for enterprises and service providers that eliminates the need for dedicated platforms and begin to leverage growth in cloud generally.

Do you trust the cloud?  Please explain.

Trust and security in cloud are common topics of interest, but I think the way most people consider the issues is incorrect. When addressing security in cloud platforms, the starting point should not be our traditional non-cloud practices. Instead, it should be best-in-class platforms and technologies. If you consider the cloud security question important, it is not only possible to build a platform as secure as legacy systems, but you can actually move forward into much more robust systems that utilize the latest research in trusted computing and networking platforms.

How important is it that the generational gap in technology literacy be closed?

That’s a great question. A lot of our GenMobile campaign is designed to increase awareness of the growing gap in users and their network devices and applications. Essentially, younger people are embracing more connected devices than ever, and this puts more pressure on mature players in the workforce to keep up with market trends. Traditionally, the gap has been difficult to bridge though, since the users have such varied experience with technologies. This is an area where tablets, ultrabooks and convertibles can play a big role in driving all users to the latest technology by way of the most convenient form factors.

What impact with the Apple-IBM (News - Alert) alliance have the enterprise vendors?

The most positive aspect of this alignment is the acknowledgement by Apple that enterprise stakeholders and their issues matter. Hopefully, this alliance will provide derivative benefits to enterprise users in key areas like security and productivity applications. For us, it would also be very valuable to see wider adoption of enterprise-centric Wi-Fi technologies like 802.11k and 802.11v.

Will wearable technology have a more significant impact in the enterprise or consumer segment?

Wearable computing technologies have long had strong positions in industrial and automation applications, especially in head-mounted applications and form factors. Of course, many people exclude the head-mounted applications and focus on wrist computing solutions that are emerging. These types of systems continue to show dominant preference towards consumer goals and performance.

What one wearable tech product do you most want to see on the market?

I’m a huge gadget freak, so I am really looking forward to an Apple iWatch. The prospect of a platform envisioned by Steve Jobs (News - Alert) and only now realizable holds as much promise to me as the original iPod or iPad in capabilities.

Is gamification an effective tool for increasing engagement with customers?  Explain.

Gamification in all aspects of life is a highly effective tool for increasing engagement. The trend broadly tries to tap basic human motivations and shows no signs of anything but huge growth right now. It will take some time for people to come up with free-to-pay adaptations of conventional games, but in the long-term, I expect all of these technologies to be game oriented.

What is going to be the biggest tech trend for this year’s holiday season?

High performance smartphones and wearables are destined to be the most popular holiday products this year. Because of the additional bandwidth requirements and next-generation standards, I also think that infrastructure upgrades to support 802.11ac or Gigabit Wi-Fi will be very significant.

What is going to be the biggest trend or innovation in business technology in the next year?

The introduction of mature 802.11ac solutions at a variety of price points is finally enabling a broad move towards Gigabit Wi-Fi upgrades. Coupled with Aruba’s ClientMatch and other technologies designed to exploit densification, 802.11ac provides performances 4 to 10 times as high as LTE (News - Alert) and other mobile technologies.

In addition to Gigabit Wi-Fi, trends towards better security are quite important. BYOD solutions with intuitive on-boarding workflows are key to developing a robust corporate IT policy and will be top of queue for most IT shops this year.

For public applications, the largest technology factor is the wide adoption of Hotspot 2.0, built on top of 802.11u. HS 2.0 provides the ability for standardized workflows that are common across entire classes of devices, not just individual models.

What did you look forward to most from this year's ITEXPO?

Interacting with my fellow panelists on the “Leveraging Cloud for the Ultimate in Wireless Flexibility” session and hearing the feedback from attendees on the topic was key. I was not disappointed. The audience members in our session were quite engaged, and provided us panelists with some important responses and information. Getting first-hand feedback from the audience provides me with important data points that I will take back with me to my work in the CTO office. Additionally, there were a number of compelling sessions on the agenda, as ITEXPO addresses some of the most important technology trends facing enterprises today. 

What did attendees learn from your session?

Attendees at the “Leveraging Cloud for the Ultimate in Wireless Flexibility” session learned how the cloud has provided many technological innovations and how service providers can now leverage its benefits to deliver and manage wireless and wired connectivity, reduce delivery costs, and offer advanced, secure managed services to customers. By leveraging cloud virtualization, service providers can remove the complexities and limitations of traditional, controller-based wireless networks where adding more users and more access means buying bigger and/or more controllers, to the tune of tens of thousands of users and more than a thousand APs, which can be offered in one of three ways: Hosted, Managed Service, or traditional on-premises/full control deployment. This session will consider the latest generation of wireless and how service providers can use the mobile explosion to build new business models.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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